Student employees from all 23 CSU campuses will be going on strike due to unresolved contract negotiations, the California Alliance of Academic Student Employees/United Auto Workers announced Friday.
The date of the strike has not been announced, but members of the CAASE/UAW said they will give the CSU a 48-hour warning before striking.
“We’re really angry with the (CSU), so we’re prepared to strike,” said Diana Andres, teaching associate and graduate assistant in the Biology Department at CSUN. “Members are fed up. They’ve had to put up with really bad working conditions for a long time.”
The union, which represents about 27,000 CSU academic student employees, has called for a strike in response to what the union claims are unresolved unfair labor practices committed by the CSU, according to representatives within the CAASE/UAW. The union said the CSU has created significant obstacles in reaching an agreement for a first contract for student employees.
“They’ve committed unfair practices in bargaining,” said Xochitl Lopez, an organizer for the CAASE/UAW and a student at Sacramento State University.
Lopez said the CSU brought negotiators to the bargaining meetings who were not authorized to make decisions about the contracts, thereby slowing down the process to find a resolution.
Other unfair practices cited by CAASE/UAW include the CSU making unilateral changes to the working conditions of academic student assistants in the bargaining unit, as well as repeatedly failing to provide workers’ information to the bargaining committee.
Clara Potes-Fellow, spokesperson for the CSU system, said that in order for the CAASE/UAW to strike legally, the union would need to go through a process of mediations and fact-finding first. Otherwise, they would not be abiding by CSU regulations.
If the CAASE/UAW decided to strike anyway, Potes-Fellow said, it would hurt students throughout the CSU system, especially those who depend on academic student employees for tutoring or assistance.
“The CSU is very interested in coming to an agreement with the students,” Potes-Fellow said. “The problem is that (the academic student employees’) demands are very high, and this issue is complex. What the CSUs want and what the ASEs want are two different things.”
Lopez said the ideal situation would be for the CSU system to reconsider their negotiating practices before the academic student workers strike, and grant them a fair contract. Lopez said the CAASE/UAW wants to settle the new contracts before the end of the Spring 2005 semester so that members can ratify the contract before they leave for summer break.
“Our focus is to get the universities to negotiate in good faith and stop unfair negotiation practices,” Lopez said.
The CAASE/UAW has been negotiating with the CSU since October 2004. The issues still unresolved include just-cause protection against discipline and dismissal; guaranteed wage increases; health benefits and fee reductions; and the ability to know the names of union members, Lopez said.